Coping with cravings

Remember that cravings can be intense. And when they're bad you can blind yourself to the consequences of taking a drink again.

But a craving dissipates in time. They rise to a peak and then fall:

If you're really struggling, make yourself wait an hour before you decide what to do.

Remember too, that if you can ride out a craving - some people call it 'urge surfing' - you'll have weakened the biological and psychological connections that have caused you so many problems.

Then, in time, the average craving will get shorter and less intense:

Stop, think and breathe

If you get a craving, stop for a moment to to consider what's happening. Think about the awful consequences of acting on your craving. Think about the fantastic reward you'll get if you don't act on it. Breathe deeply for a minute. Remember that you have a rational choice to make.

Talk to someone

It's useful to have someone who doesn't mind you contacting them if you're feeling on the sharp end of a craving. Alternatively, just ring someone for a chat, just to take you out of your introspective state of mind.

Don't give yourself permission

In the middle of a strong craving, you might find yourself trying to justify giving in to it. It'd be so much easier. "I deserve it, I've done well so far"; "One won't hurt". On no account give yourself permission like this. Get it into your head that there are no circumstances where it's OK to drink. None.


If you're experiencing a desperate craving, try to distract yourself. Prepare a list of things you can do beforehand. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it doesn't involve a drink. Sometimes it helps to keep your hands busy, to do something physical. At other times you need to distract your mind - even if it's just by watching rubbish telly. The more you can lose yourself in something, the better.

Riding it out

If all else fails, you'll have to tolerate your craving. You can't always avoid living with uncomfortable feelings, and it'll help you if you can prepare for this - so that you can think to yourself: 'Here it comes. I know what to do'. Have faith that it will pass, and hold on tight.

Keep in mind why you're not drinking

It helps enormously if you can keep in mind why you're not drinking. Some people feel so great after they've stopped for a few weeks, or months, that they lose sight of the possibility of relapse. After this honeymoon period is over, they can come crashing down because they weren't looking out for themselves.

Some people like to keep a journal, or a diary. Sometimes, though, it helps to keep things simple. You can summarise your plan on a piece of paper.

For example: Write down 5 positive reasons not to drink - things you can look forward to if you can stay dry. Then 5 negative reasons not to drink - the bad things that will inevitably happen if you do start drinking again.

Say to yourself every morning - if I don't drink today, everything else will follow. If I do, everything will fall apart. Remind yourself that drinking solves none of your problems, and only makes everything worse. Constant vigilance is required! You're only as strong as your weakest moment.